COVID-19 and food labels, COVID-19 is a hot topic right now and rightly so! It has drastically affected the way we interact and how we shop for the foreseeable future. Many food producers will be looking for new ways to market their products as ‘immunity boosters’ against COVID-19 to a consumer base that is ‘hungry’ for any way to protect themselves and their families during this unprecedented and scary time.
So, can you market your food as immunity-boosting or antiviral (especially to coronavirus, the virus behind COVID-19) on food labels? Well, not specifically. If your product meets the general claim conditions for making a nutrient content claim for a nutrient that contributes to immune function, (copper, folate, iron, selenium, zinc and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and D) then you may be able to make a general claim that the food contributes to normal immune system function. (1) Given the times, it may be a useful advantage to include immunity properties on food labels and online marketing (since this is the way we are shopping nowadays) although this must be weighed up against consumer perceptions of possibly taking advantage of the COVID-19 situation.
To make a specific claim about the anti-viral or immunity properties of an ingredient, or food, requires a Notified Food-Health relationship submission to FSANZ but note that “there is currently no convincing evidence that any food or dietary pattern can ‘boost’ our immune system and prevent or treat COVID-19”. (2) Statements like this may also run you into trouble with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The advice currently is to eat a varied and balanced diet with a focus on fresh fruits and vegetables while getting enough sleep and exercise and managing stress to support overall immunity and vitality. A tough ask these days!
If you need any specific guidance on Australian food labelling requirements or health claims your product could make, please feel free to contact me. I am here to help.
Stay well and stay positive,
(1) Australian Government. Food Standards Australia New Zealand Act 1991 (Cth) Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code – Schedule 4 – Nutrition, health and related claims F2017C00711 [Legislation]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Government; 2017 [updated 2017 Sep 8; cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from: https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/F2017C00711
(2) European Food Information Council (EUFIC). Food and coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to know [Internet]. Brussels, Belgium: EUFIC; 2020 [cited 2020 Apr 6]. Available from: https://www.eufic.org/en/page/food-and-coronavirus-covid-19-what-you-need-to-know.
Disclaimer – This is general information only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend you seek legal advice for your particular circumstances should you wish to rely on advice or information as a basis for any commercial decisions undertaken by you or your business. This information is current as at 27 April 2020.